Up To Our Necks – Made In Hull

Wearing a Hull t-shirt is not just an excuse to show loyalty to your hometown, but a chance to share Hull’s distinctive identity: a great way to get people to start talking about Hull and Hullness. Whether it is the quirky Pattie Butty from Bowes Threads or the more teasing Larkin’ Out by Barmy Drain, designs that represent alternative aspects of Hull life have never been more popular.

neverdullinhullMany of us will remember the ‘It’s Never Dull In Hull’ t-shirt with its sober design and message, quietly standing against the nay-sayers during the years when Hull bashing was a national sport. In the last few years artists have chosen to turn the negativity on its head, and produce designs in response.

Come To Hull It’s Not Shit Anymore‘ by somethingentirelydifferent.com may not be to everyone’s taste but, the message does reflect a particular brand of Hull humour.

Other designers have looked for their inspiration in the everyday environment, incorporating strong Hull imagery to celebrate all that we love about our city. Since being awarded the responsibility of hosting UK City of Culture 2017 we have been in the spotlight more than ever before. The imaginative designs coming from talented local artists, reflect a definite feeling of being on the up: they are distinctive, witty and desirable – they encourage you to stand out in the crowd.

dead bodThe Hull designs also speak to a collective identity, with shared values and knowledge.  We all know what a pattie butty is, but outside the county boundaries, they wouldn’t have a clue. Similarly a line drawing of a bird laying on its back, with the words ‘Dead Bod‘ speaks volumes to us about who we are and what we stand for, but the meaning behind this now iconic image, remains elusive to an outsider.

I’m quite sure when someone gets round to creating a design with #BeverleyGate it will prove just as popular. Hull folk will make it so.  These are symbols and ideals we can unite behind, strengthening our own sense of who we are.

I spoke to a couple of designers Bowes Threads and Barmy Drain, about what goes into their popular designs and also what it means to their customers to wear a Hull t-shirt.

When we start a Hull based design we try to capture unique parts of our home city and promote them. We look at our local language, attractions, childhoods and things we are proud of.’ Katie & Sarah and Amy Ellerton of Bowes Threads











A lot of positivity goes into our designs, whether it’s a design based on Hull or not. We love to show a positive mental attitude and this goes into all of our designs.

We try to promote a positive image for Hull and hope we show how proud we are to be from the city. 

Although it was a big gamble the Pattie Butty tee has become their best-seller despite its very Hullcentric theme. These distinctive designs are being worn all over the world and are particularly popular with Hull ex-pats. During peak sale times such as Christmas, Bowes use local screen printers, rest of the time they  print in-house.

Julie Shore wearing Bowes t-shirt

Julie Shore wearing ‘Welcome To Hull’ in NYC


“It’s one of my favourite t-shirts I own and I get a lot of comments when I wear it. Many questions are asked about our vocabulary and this t-shirt covers some of the unique phrases only the people of Hull can understand. Hull has come a long way and winning City Of Culture 2017, only makes us prouder to live in this city and wear our name with pride.” Julie Shore




Made in Hull By Bowes Threads



During 2015 another Hull-based designer has emerged called Barmy Drain, taking instantly recognisable aspects of local culture and subverting them to great effect.

Larkin Out?

T-shirts support exciting emerging image

Barmy Drain LogoLarkin’ Out playfully combines Larkin’s face – complete with spectacles and wavy comb-over – with the familar Hull phrase and has fun with it. Same for the Toadally Tee design: a play on words with a well known Hull image.

 “I have a few more Hull ideas in the pipeline, sort of in-jokes for folk round here: a sense of belonging is important to me.” Kel@Barmy Drain

Both Bowes Threads and Barmy Drain designs are stocked by Beasleys Clothing. The family run business, conveniently located in Hepworth Arcade by the indoor market, has a long tradition of supporting independent artists and designers including Mr Joe, Bouie Lean, Mark Wigan and Pinky Vision. Look for the new Straight Out A Hull design from artist Pinky in store now.

The latest must have top by Barmy Drain is the long-sleeved red/white striped Russian Sailor top.

sailor shirt from barmy drain

Wearing one is like being part of a club...

The anchor design, representative of maritime heritage, is hand drawn signifying that ‘nothing need be too rigid or too neat, it’s an easy-going design that hints at DIY and punk.’ The eye-catching design simultaneously looks back in history, to mark the year 1299, when the city charter was signed. Laura P an avid fan of Barmy Drain talks about the designs encouraging a new found confidence since the 2017 announcement.


I came across the Barmy Drain Tees on Facebook,  I’ve embraced the designs and bought two!  For so long Hull has taken such a bashing, but with the City of Culture, I’ve seen people gain confidence, being proud of their city” Laura P 


This t-shirt brings us all together: Lisa in Perth

This t-shirt brings us all together: Lisa in Perth

“My reason for buying this t-shirt? Simply that I am proud of my heritage despite living 10,000 miles away in Perth, Australia. Since moving away 12 years ago, I appreciate my unique accent and the fact I can talk about such things as patties, bread ‘cakes’ and a whole host of other things whilst those around me haven’t a clue what I’m rattling on about!!
When fellow ex-pat Kingstonians (there are many in Perth!) see me wearing this t-shirt it brings us all together, even if only briefly to share our experiences & our never ending nostalgia for Hull”




Beasleys Clothing: http://www.beasleysclothing.co.uk

Bowes Threads: http://www.bowesthreads.com/

Barmy Drain: http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BarmyDrain


1 Comment

Filed under 2017, Art blogs, commercial

One response to “Up To Our Necks – Made In Hull

  1. I know how proud you all feel about Hull. When I worked on The Sheffield Telegraph visiting exec., from London office used to think it hilarious that people called each other ‘luv’ and ‘…there is no Toppet Hill, I’ve looked’, when they meant ‘top at ‘ill’.

    I was at a party in London and an academic from Kingston Uni., introduced me as ..’a Yorkshire poet of some distinction’. ‘No’, I told him’, taking him by the elbow and leading him from the bar, ‘a poet of some distinction – from Yorkshire!
    At least I drew a smile from the others.

    I’m a great student of regional accents. I wrote to Ian MacMillan some time ago. He doesn’t know me from Adam but I pointed out that the few recordings of Ilkley Moor Bah ‘Tat I’d heard on youtube were a travesty and that he and I, being authentic Yorkshire speakers, should record it together for the archive. We could alternate singing the verses and sing the chorus together. I thought that was a pretty good idea but I’m still waiting for a reply!

    Anyway, I’ve got to go. It’s 3 in the morning but I can’t leave you without quoting the redoubtable Bob Monkhouse:- ‘They all laughed when I told them I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they aren’t laughing now are they!’

    All the best from all us here to all you there.



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